Sometimes a movie will take you by surprise. A film that looks and sounds like insipid garbage will, every once in a while, turn out to be a lot of fun, a guilty pleasure if you will. As a reviewer it's great to pop in a disc with almost no expectations of seeing a good film only to find a diamond in the rough. Unfortunately that didn't happen with Into the Blue. When I first loaded the disc in my player I was expecting a trite and predictable movie with hollow but good looking characters surrounded by nice scenery. That's exactly what I got. (I hate it when I'm right.) The Blu-ray disc looks fine, but even the beautiful Caribbean location can't save this dog of a picture.
Jared (Paul Walker) is a tight-bodied handsome scuba instructor living in a trailer in the Caribbean with his tight-bodied attractive girlfriend Sam (Jessica Alba). They are poor but happy. After all they are in love, and if you're in love you don't need things like money. At least according to Sam.
Things change a bit when Jared's friend Bryce (Scott Caan) comes down for a visit and brings along his coke-whore girlfriend Amanda (Ashley Scott). While the four of them are scuba diving, Jared finds the remains of a sunken ship. It appears to be the Zephyr, a ship that was loaded down with pirate-plundered gold. The ship was scuttled by its captain in the 1800's in order to confuse the Navy that was searching for him and his woman. Instead of living a life of luxury, the pirate gave up a treasure so he could be with the woman he loved. (Oh my gosh! That's the same thing that Sam said earlier! What a coincidence! Hmmm, could that be the message of the film???) How sinking a ship full of gold is supposed to "confuse" the Navy is never really explained. It also serves to confuse the viewers however.
So, everything will be great just as soon as the quartet prove that the ship they discovered is the Zephyr. Then they can lay claim to it and take their time harvesting the riches. Before that however, anyone can steal their find. The excavation is complicated by something else too. Just a few hundred feet from the Zephyr is a downed plane full of cocaine worth a fortune. (Image the odds.) Idiot Bryce and his skanky girlfriend want to sell the drugs to finance the recovery of the sunken ship, something the honorable Jared and Sam are opposed to. Of course there are some scary drug dealers (all black of course, except for the ring leader who is white) looking for the plane, and when they discover that Bryce knows where it is, things get dicey for Jared and Sam.
Is anyone in Hollywood really surprised that theatrical attendance is down? When they put out crap like this no one should be surprised when people decide to stay home and watch TV. The plot was idiotic, the pace was languid (the drug dealers don't enter into the picture until an hour into the film), and the action predictable. Even the single shark attack, telegraphed from early on in the movie, happens off screen. Sure, Alba and Walker look good in a bikini and Speedos but I never cared what happened to either one of them. Their characters were paper cut-outs of real people and the acting was wretched. (Does anyone think that Jessica Alba can act? Anyone?? Why is she in movies?) If it wasn't for the gorgeous scenery there would be nothing positive about this film at all. As it is, the only reason I was able to sit through it was the marvelous looking locale.
Note: The only Blu Ray DVD player on the market at the time of this review is the Samsung BD P1000. Apparently an error crept into the design, and a noise reduction algorithm on one of the chips was turned on which creates a softer picture. As yet there is no fix for this.
The picturesque scenery and visually interesting underwater shots are the only thing that the movie has going for it, and this Blu-ray disc does a pretty good job of making these look good. Many of the above water scenes have a lot of eye-pop, jumping off the screen and really having a lot of dimension. The level of detail is good too.
On the down side the underwater scenes don't look quite as tight as the shots taken on dry land. This could be due to the limitations of underwater photography, though I'm not sure. The water scenes have a bit less dimensionality too and the blacks weren't as consistent as they could have been. There was also a bit of grain in the dark scenes, but this was relatively minor.
One other thing that bugged me were the colors. They are generally very bright and vivid but in some scenes they are a bit too strong, giving the scene a plastic look. This may not bother everyone, my wife seemed to think those scenes looked fine, but critical viewers might be bothered by less than real look that some scenes have.
Though I had a few reservations about the video, the audio quality is excellent. The 5.1 PCM soundtrack (there are also DD 5.1 tracks in English and French) sounds great. The audio is mixed very well, making full use of the soundstage. Not only for the (few) action scenes, but during the whole movie. There are subtle sounds of water and wind that come from all angles and really immerse the viewer in the film, at least sonically. There is almost always some sound coming from all of the speakers but it never seems overwhelming or busy. Even the underwater scenes were sonically impressive, something that I was surprised to hear. The only real qualm I have is that the bass was a little light in some areas, I could have been punched up a bit for a scene or two, and the dialog was mixed just a tad too low in a couple of scenes. These are minor complaints though.
Just about all of the extras from the SD version of the movie made it onto this Blu-ray disc, the sole exception is the film's trailer. Why they didn't include that I can't imagine. I assume that Sony didn't want to release a Blu-ray disc and not give people something to complain about. The bonus material starts with a commentary track with director John Stockwell. I'd by lying if I said that I listened to the whole thing, but what I heard didn't impress me much. I'm probably biased since I didn't care for the film, but what I heard of the track was dull and didn't make me appreciate the film. There's also a 20-minute fluff piece featurette, and ten deleted scenes that deserved to end up on the cutting room floor.
Take two of the most wooden actors working today, give them a script
that isn't even made-for-TV-movie quality and place it all in a scenic
locale. What do you get? A pretty looking film that is really,
really, bad. Not bad enough that it's fun to watch, just bad enough
so you'll feel that you wasted two hours of your life watching it.
The Blu-ray transfer is adequate and the sound is very good, but that isn't
enough to carry this dog. Skip it.